To shield groundnut exports, govt to make certification mandatory

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 5 2013, 05:59am hrs
With reports of Indian groundnuts (peanuts) consignments being detained at countries in the European Union (EU) and Southeast Asia getting frequent, due to presence of a high level of aflatoxins, the government has decided to make certification of exporting units mandatory under the globally approved Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP).

Along with the HACCP certification, the government would try to see to it that farmers follow norms under good agricultural practices (GAP), which will improve the quality of groundnuts shipped from the country. To start with, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), the commerce ministrys arm, has asked the Indian Oilseeds and Produce Export Promotion Council to compile a list of potential units having high export turnovers so that the HACCP certification process can be initiated.

By June 2013, we expect the exporting units to have the HACCP certification, which will boost the export potential for groundnut products, Asit Tripathy, chairperson, APEDA told FE.

India mostly exports groundnuts to Southeast Asian countriesm such as Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, China, Philippines and Thailand. Besides, a small quantity is exported to countries in the EU and Russia.

India exported more than 3.7 lakh tonne of groundnut worth more than R2,808 crore during April-November 2012. Commerce ministry officials say that during the last five years, out of approximately 750 official rejections of groundnut products, over 365 were reported due to excess levels of aflatoxins in peanuts, which is about 50% of all the rejections.

The official admit that most rejected consignments also do not meet the domestic aflatoxins levels. There have been inspection visits to India by food regulators from the EU, Japan and Russia.

The main purpose of launching a mandatory certification process was to ensure that groundnuts products exported from India do not test for aflatoxin in excess of the prescribed levels. Besides, APEDA wants to facilitate web-based traceability through PeanutNet with the objective of tracing and tracking the product for better compliance.

HACCP is a management system wherein food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product.

India is one of the major exporters of groundnuts after China. Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, UP, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and MP are the key producers.